Hubble focuses on a hypergiant's home

March 13, 2017
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

This beautiful Hubble image reveals a young super star cluster known as Westerlund 1, only 15,000 light-years away in our Milky Way neighborhood, yet home to one of the largest stars ever discovered.

Stars are classified according to their spectral type, surface temperature, and luminosity. While studying and classifying the cluster's constituent , astronomers discovered that Westerlund 1 is home to an enormous star.  Originally named Westerlund 1-26, this monster star is a red supergiant (although sometimes classified as a hypergiant) with a radius over 1,500 times that of our sun. If Westerlund 1-26 were placed where our sun is in our solar system, it would extend out beyond the orbit of Jupiter.

Most of Westerlund 1's stars are thought to have formed in the same burst of activity, meaning that they have similar ages and compositions. The cluster is relatively young in astronomical terms —at around three million years old it is a baby compared to our own sun, which is some 4.6 billion years old.

Explore further: Image: Hubble hones in on a hypergiant's home

Related Stories

Image: Hubble hones in on a hypergiant's home

March 10, 2017

This beautiful Hubble image reveals a young super star cluster known as Westerlund 1, only 15,000 light-years away in our Milky Way neighborhood, yet home to one of the largest stars ever discovered.

Chandra Lifts the Veil on Milky Way 'Hotspot'

January 23, 2008

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is helping to demystify Westerlund 2, a young star cluster with an estimated age of about one- or two-million years. Heavily obscured by dust and gas, Westerlund 2 has been something of a ...

How the largest star known is tearing itself apart

October 16, 2013

(Phys.org) —An international team of astronomers has observed part of the final death throes of the largest known star in the universe as it throws off its outer layers. The discovery, by a collaboration of scientists from ...

Recommended for you

Solar minimum surprisingly constant

November 17, 2017

Using more than a half-century of observations, Japanese astronomers have discovered that the microwaves coming from the sun at the minimums of the past five solar cycles have been the same each time, despite large differences ...

Lava or not, exoplanet 55 Cancri e likely to have atmosphere

November 16, 2017

Twice as big as Earth, the super-Earth 55 Cancri e was thought to have lava flows on its surface. The planet is so close to its star, the same side of the planet always faces the star, such that the planet has permanent day ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Mar 13, 2017
To get an idea how big these suckers are, here's a youtube video (which includes Westerlund 1-26 at position 4 of largest known stars)
https://www.youtu...p5HkplhM

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.